The Emergence of Football Spectating as a Social Problem 1880–1985: A Figurational and Developmental Perspective

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 West Sussex Institute of Higher Education
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This paper has three main purposes: to undermine the dominant mythology surrounding football hooliganism, to propose an alternative conceptualization, and to highlight more general issues in the sociology of sport. The main basis for the study is a systematic survey of newspapers and FA minutes dating from the 1880s. Examination of the changing nature and extent of both the actual forms and the perception of spectator disorder by powerful outsiders is undertaken. Changes in the specific forms of spectator disorder, in perceptions of it and in attempts to control it, are more adequately understood in terms of class cultural conflict over ways of living in English society and by attempting to trace the antecedents of such conflict. Crucial in this regard has been a marked narrowing of the forms of behavior that are seen as consistent with public disorder—the defining and redefining of the limits of “decent” spectating reflects this process. Analysis of the more general issue of agency and structure is considered in the concluding remarks.

Direct all correspondence to Joe Maguire, Sports Studies Program, West Sussex Institute of Higher Education, Chichester, West Sussex, England PO19 4PE.
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